Gaborone Bonnington South Member of Parliament, Ndaba Gaolathe
Gaborone Bonnington South Member of Parliament, Ndaba Gaolathe has opined that the saga involving President of Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, who was mentioned in the infamous Panama papers serves to expose the lapses of the country’s governance system.
The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) president expressed that while the mention of a prominent judge’s name should not cause the conclusion that he is involved in illegal activity, he said as an able judge, he should have been aware that the law firm he used did not enjoy an impeccable reputation, even at the time.
“The concealment of shareholders in general, in such companies, also means a possible concealment of names of individuals that may have to be tried before the courts at some point, before a judge who may be conflicted, without anyone knowing. These are some of the matters that the Judge President sought to clear in a recent interview,” he told Weekend Post.
Gaolathe said the question of whether Justice Kirby should or should not resign misses the more pertinent questions as the main concern should be whether the judiciary in Botswana is becoming less and less independent of the executive.
“Is our system becoming less fairer? Is ours a deteriorating democracy? The answer is an emphatic yes; our entire system of Governance is deteriorating, if not disintegrating,” he asserted.
Gaolathe remarked that in a robust democracy, the country’s system would have a freedom of information or declaration legislation as reference on which it would have been a simple matter to assess the mention of anyone’s name on the Panama papers.
In Kirby’s particular situation, Gaolathe said, a more independent judiciary would have issued, as an institution, a statement clearing the air and making plain the facts that reinforce the hope that the institution remains intact, and possessing all the ingredients and the personnel to sustain, enhance and pursue its role as a fair and independent judiciary.
“This has not been done, or if it has been done, it was done in a way that is too little to notice. The executive branch of the BDP-led Government, through its acts of unduly imposing its will, first on the country’s legislature, and now on the judiciary, is planting the seeds for the disintegration of our democracy,” he stated.
“With a weakened legislature, and now an increasingly weakening judiciary, Botswana’s system of governance is deteriorating and it will become more difficult to conjure the confidence of the people.”
According to the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) secretary general, what the Panama papers are doing is simply to expose the lapses of our governance system.
He contends that Botswana needs a fresher constitutional framework, more robust governance and transparency laws and fairer budgetary investment in the other branches of Government outside the executive.
Gaolathe decried the state of Botswana’s judiciary as he expressed that many observers in the past suggest that Botswana’s judiciary was for a long time, considered relatively independent and fair.
“Those in the know mention that the greatest institutional reform of Botswana’s judiciary transpired during Julian Nganunu’s tenure as Chief Justice,” he said.
“The greatest improvement during his tenure was a simple, yet a fundamental one: he secured the resources necessary for judges to do their work freely and unconstrained, supported by an administrative and intellectual infrastructure.”
Gaolathe said despite such achievement, recent years have brought scrutiny to the state of our judiciary because appointments to the bench have tended to favour candidates with links or known sympathy to the ruling party, at the expense of more able candidates whose political affiliation were deemed mysterious.
“A case in point is that of Motumisi (Omphemetse), an impeccable legal intellect with an unimpeachable sense of fairness and devotion to justice in general, who was overlooked by our judicial selection system, but who would have made it to the finest benches anywhere else in the world,” he claimed.
“By far one of the most worrisome epochs in the evolution of our judiciary was the suspension of three or four judges – Justice Key Dingake, Justice Modiri Letsididi, Mercy Garekwe and Justice Rainer Busang – from the bench last year, for unclear reasons.”
Gaolathe opines that the matter could have been resolved administratively, by applying some provisions of the Public Finance and Management Act.
“The involvement of the executive whether directly or indirectly in this decision and process is a major indictment on the current Government’s commitment to an independent judiciary,” he expressed.
“This is a major question about our country, because it touches the heart of whether we are a genuine democracy or serious about becoming one, or whether we continue to regress and gravitate towards a subtle dictatorship, a subtle autocracy, a subtle hard-fisted state controlled by a mafia that is able to camouflage behind a ruling party, a mafia dictated to by the secret and destructive acts of the DIS.”
In a significant stride towards inclusivity, Botswana’s National Assembly has ratified the groundbreaking Persons with Disability Act. This legislation is a cornerstone in protecting the rights and promoting the economic well-being of individuals with disabilities
At the heart of this act is the creation of two pivotal bodies: the National Disability Coordinating Office and the National Disability Council. These institutions are set to revolutionize the integration of disability affairs into the national fabric, as outlined by the Minister for State President, Kabo Morwaeng. Morwaeng highlighted the alignment of this act with the global Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), underlining Botswana’s commitment to international standards in disability rights.
During his address to Parliament, Morwaeng disclosed Botswana’s inaugural CRPD report submission to the UN, underscoring the nation’s dedication to global dialogue on disability rights. Furthermore, he unveiled plans for a comprehensive assessment to understand the socio-economic realities of disabled individuals and their families. This initiative, complemented by the strengthening of existing programs, aims to empower this community, ensuring their integration and prosperity in society
Morwaeng’s call to action was clear. He urged a collective shift in developmental agendas to accommodate and prioritize disability issues, advocating for an inclusive societal framework.
An ambitious budget of P35,631,600 has been allocated to bridge gaps in Disability Economic Empowerment, alongside critical studies and the establishment of the National Emergency Operations Centre. Concluding his presentation, Morwaeng appealed to fellow governmental departments to allocate funds diligently to fulfill CRPD and Persons with Disabilities obligations, marking a new chapter in Botswana’s legislative history towards inclusive development.
Kabo Matlho, a luminary whose fame once graced the grand finale of My Star, is poised to enchant the music realm once more with an upcoming solo venture—an RnB and Hip-Hop Extended Play (EP)—heralding his grand resurgence after a hiatus that spoke volumes.
During a telephonic confab with our editors, the virtuoso, navigating the world from the confines of his wheelchair, confided that while the exact launch date of the EP remains shrouded in mystery, he is fervently working towards a mid-2024 reveal. Matlho shared the trials of his odyssey, especially the cold shoulder he received from the industry ambushes, crediting the harsh exclusion to his physical predicament.
“The scene calls me once more, for the absence has been both a sabbatical and a shadow. The road for an artist, enveloped in the embrace of wheels, is strewn with fewer welcomes and scarce stages. Yet, herein I forge my return, with the precise hour of my EP’s birth still nestled in the coming chapters, assuredly within this year’s embrace,” Matlho unveiled with a determination that shone bright.
Probed on his choice for a solo EP, the melody weaver expressed a desire to not only rekindle his essence but to stand solitary under the spotlight, nurturing his brand to vigor before possibly blending it with the talents of others—once his career phoenix rises anew from its ashes.
Elaborating on his Extended Play, Matlho shared visions of its essence, where the soul of RnB intertwines with the spirited rhythm of Hip-Hop, crafting an audial tapestry that not only returns to his roots but also ventures into previously uncharted territories of his musical domain. With resilience, Matlho faces the crossroads of his artistry, embracing the whisperings of Hip-Hop that tease the boundaries of his comfort, embarking on this path with a heart both apprehensive and ablaze.
The Botswana DanceSport Association (BODANSA) has been graced with a financial boon of P45,000 courtesy of Turnstar Holdings. This generous endowment is earmarked for the illustrious Botswana International Dance Sport Grand Prix Championships, which are scheduled to animate Gaborone from Friday to Saturday.
At a media engagement held early today, BODANSA’s Marketing Maestro, Tiro Ntwayagae, shared that Turnstar Holdings Limited has bestowed a gift of P45,000 towards the grand spectacle.
“We are thrilled to announce that this backing will enable us to orchestrate a cultural soirée at the Game City Marque locale, a night brimming with cultural fervor set for March 1, 2024, from 6pm to the stroke of midnight.
This enchanting space will also serve as the battleground for the preliminaries of traditional dance ensembles—spanning the rhythmically rich Setapa to the euphoric beats of Sebirwa, the spirited Seperu, the heavenly Hosana, and more—in a competition folded into the Traditional Dance Groups Category. The ensemble that dances into the judges’ hearts will clinch a grand prize of P10,000,” elaborated Ntwayagae.
He further illuminated that the cultural eve would not only celebrate traditional melodies but also the fresh beats of contemporary dance variants including Hip Hop, Sbujwa, Amapiano, among others, in a dazzling display of modern dance mastery.
Moreover, these championships carry the prestigious recognition by the World DanceSport Federation as a qualifying round for the Breakdance category for the Paris 2024 Olympics. “This is a monumental opportunity for athletes to leap towards their Olympic dreams during one of the penultimate qualifiers,” underscored Ntwayagae.
Looking ahead to March 2, 2024, the festivities will propel into the University of Botswana Indoor Sports Arena for the championship’s climactic showdowns encompassing Breakdance, Latin, and Ballroom Dancing.